Lawyers for the Beatles sued Friday to prevent the distribution of unreleased recordings purportedly made during Ringo Starr’s first performance with the group in 1962.
The dispute between Apple Corps Ltd., the London company formed by the Beatles that helps guard their legacy, and Fuego Entertainment Inc. of Miami Lakes stems from recordings the Fab Four apparently made during a performance at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany.
Eight unreleased tracks are said to be among the recordings, including Paul McCartney singing Hank Williams’ “Lovesick Blues” and McCartney and John Lennon singing “Ask Me Why.”
Apple Corps claims that the songs were taped without the consent of the band and that Fuego and sister companies Echo-Fuego Music Group LLC and Echo-Vista Inc. have no right to distribute them.
“This appears to us to be a garden-variety bootleg recording,” said Paul LiCalsi, an attorney for Apple Corps.
But Fuego Entertainment says the recordings were legally made. “Don’t claim that these were just bootlegged,” said Fuego president Hugo Cancio. “It’s not like today, that you just go in with a phone or a blackberry and you record.”
The lawsuit contends that the recordings are of poor quality and that circulating them “dilutes and tarnishes the extraordinarily valuable image associated with the Beatles.”
Cancio said that he had not been served with a copy of the lawsuit, but that the filing demanding at least $15 million in damages was not expected.
“I’m surprised because up to a few weeks ago, we were in good-faith conversations with Apple,” he said.
Also named in the lawsuit is Jeffrey Collins, a partner of Cancio who obtained the recordings. It’s unclear how Collins obtained the recordings.
Cancio intended to release the songs as “Jammin’ with The Beatles and Friends, Star Club, Hamburg, 1962.”
“It’s unfair to millions of Beatles fans not to allow this recording to be put out. The world deserves to hear these tracks,” he said. “The fact is that we have it; they don’t, and that is what’s bothering them.”